Next year’s Asia-Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo (AIME) will boast a number of changes. As well as following a hybrid format for the first time, a new event director has been appointed: Silke Calder.

In the lead up to the event, we chatted with Silke about what attendees can expect in 2021, the challenges of organising an event in the middle of a global pandemic and where she believes the events industry is headed.

  1. With you at the helm of AIME 2021, what changes can attendees expect?

AIME has always been important to the business events industry – and we are certainly sticking to what we always have believed in: Do Business. Network. Learn.

In 2021, AIME will be going hybrid which will see the show take place in Melbourne from March 15-17, 2021, as well as virtually from March 15-26 via AIME Online. The hybrid show model gives our exhibitors a greater exposure to a global buyer audience and allows the industry to connect from anywhere in the world.

  1. Starting a new role in the middle of pandemic, what has been the most challenging part of you?

Moving from Frankfurt to Melbourne, with two little kids during a pandemic has certainly been the most challenging part so far. It was certainly a surreal experience boarding the plane in protective gear and completing a 14-day quarantine in Melbourne.

Once settling back into Melbourne life, it was a different than normal meeting the AIME team! By now we are all so used to the new way of working remotely. Yes, in an ideal world I would have liked to have gotten to know my team in person. But with all the Zoom/Teams meetings and webinars, after two months of leading the AIME team I already feel very connected with each and every one of them. It makes me proud to see just how motivated they all are in delivering this outstanding AIME hybrid experience.

  1. COVID-19 has certainly impacted the business events industry around the world. Where do you see the industry heading?

The short-term solution will very much be a domestic approach for every country with the added virtual event experiences for the international market. With attendance at international trade shows not being possible at the moment, we will have to focus on our very own backyard.

The 50 million boost fund will certainly help to restart Australia’s vital business events sector. It is such an important part of the recovery of the Australian tourism industry.

It is in the DNA of our industry and humans in general to want to meet in person. Even if we are restricted to our countries for now.

  1. Applications for the 2021 Hosted Buyer program are now open, what can applicants expect from the program next year?

We will be ensuring that everybody will get most out of our exciting new hybrid format, from a curated appointment diary with 32 meetings, to our much-loved exclusive networking events. But for 2021 we have even more up our sleeve. Everybody will now have a two-week period to conduct virtual meetings and if this wasn’t enough, we are even building a first-class Buyers Lounge with concierge service to support buyers and exhibitors with scheduling meetings.

  1. You have recently launched AIME Online, how do you see attendees interacting with the new platform?

With AIME Online we are confident that the advanced technology will deliver a seamless user experience both domestically and internationally.

AIME is going to be the industry’s first successful hybrid event. We needed a tech platform that could seamlessly host the virtual experience for delegates unable to visit Melbourne due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

With its innovative meetings algorithm, we will be able to match connections between quality buyers and exhibitors from all over the globe. Meetings will match through a series of criteria – including business objectives, industry requirements, budgets and region, which will evaluate and summarise an overall percentage rating of each matched meeting.